Michael Dummett, 1925-2011

Michael Dummett

We were sad to hear of the recent death of notable philosopher Michael Dummett, author of The Nature and Future of Philosophy (2010) and other titles. Both the Guardian and the Telegraph published excellent obituaries on Michael Dummett highlighting his important contributions to analytic philosophy and his standing as one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century.

On top of his impressive contributions to philosophy, particularly his work on Frege, and his influence on other philosophers, Dummett was also a leading campaigner against racism in England and for the protection of immigrant rights. Dummett criticized the political system in Britain and particularly the Home Office for encouraging hostility to immigrants and non-whites in Britain.

In 2010 we were fortunate to have the opportunity to publish Dummett’s The Nature and Future of Philosophy, which in many ways offers a kind of encapsulation of his ideas about the discipline of philosophy. In the book, Dummett analyzes the current state of philosophy as it is practiced in academia and elsewhere. Despite the proliferation and growth of philosophy departments, the discipline’s between the analytical and continental camps has obscured its relevance. Dummett sets forth a proposal for renewal and reengagement by returning to a focus on the nature of philosophical inquiry as it has developed for centuries, especially its exceptional openness and perspective—which has, ironically, led to our present crisis. He discusses philosophy in relation to science, religion, morality, language, and meaning and recommends avenues for healing around a renewed investigation of mind, language, and thought. Employing his trademark frankness and accessibility, Dummett asks philosophers to resolve theoretical difference and reclaim the vital work of their practice.

For an excerpt from The Nature and Future of Philosophy.

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